Women and men wear makeup for various, legitimate reasons: to hide blemishes, to feel more confident in their appearance, and to meet job expectations (e.g., in acting, modeling, etc.). Wearing makeup can be both a cultural expectation and a personal choice.
In the last decade, those who wear traditional makeup have started to become more critical of the makeup products they use in light of revelations on cosmetics and their impact on the health of their skin. The impact of traditional makeup on skin ranges from mild and manageable to severe.
Most traditional makeup know that traditional makeup can have a negative impact on their skin. They know that traditional makeup should be removed before exercise and before bed to allow pores to breathe and to prevent buildup in pores. They know that they need to exfoliate periodically to keep pores from getting clogged and enlarged. Traditional makeup users have accepted these rituals as normal. After all, even those who choose to not wear any makeup need to wash, moisturize and exfoliate their faces on a regular basis.
What has become concerning to traditional makeup users is the side effects that traditional makeup can have on skin. According to Dr. Anne Chiu, dermatologist and founder of The Derm Institute, “makeup forms a barrier over the skin, which locks in irritants and locks out moisturizers. This exacerbates redness and irritation, increases pore size, deepens wrinkles—all those things that make our skin appear older” (see below). Traditional makeup can cause extra stress on skin and can cause users to work harder to unclog pores.
In addition to causing stress on skin, traditional makeup can potentially harm its users. Traditional makeup is a ripe breeding ground for bacteria (like Streptococcus). Unless traditional makeup pay close attention to expiration dates, they place themselves at risk of accidental infections. Even with clear expiration dates on products, traditional makeup users must be careful to make sure they are using products properly.
Plus, up to one third of traditional makeup users (according to a 2010 study) may have or develop allergies to traditional makeup . Traditional makeup often is made with many fragrances and preservatives that can potentially cause a variety of allergic reactions, such as eczema and contact dermatitis. Users of traditional makeup may have an immediate allergic reaction to cosmetic product ingredients, or they may develop one over time.
Finally, ingredients used in traditional makeup may contribute to the development of cancer. For example, formaldehyde and paraben-esters are common preservatives used in traditional makeup that have demonstrated carcinogenic properties (see below). Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not closely monitor ingredients in traditional makeup (with the notable exception of color additives). Traditional makeup users must find research on cosmetic ingredients and check labels carefully to make sure that the products they use are safe.
Given all of the drawbacks to traditional makeup, it is not surprising that makeup users are looking for a more safe and convenient alternative to traditional makeup. Permanent makeup is one such alternative that traditional makeup users are choosing.
Permanent makeup involves implanting color pigments in the skin using either a hand- held tool called a microblade, or by using a digital tattoo machine (for example, the Nouveau Contour Intelligent). This process takes 1+ hours (depending on the procedure) and usually lasts 2-5 years with proper maintenance (that is, using sunblock, avoiding swimming excessively in chlorinated water, etc.). Although regular makeup can be used with permanent makeup after the healing period, permanent makeup can eliminate the need to use traditional makeup—reducing the stress that traditional makeup has on the skin.
Further, in the hands of the skilled, certified technician, permanent makeup application is a safe, regulated procedure. In a growing number of states, permanent makeup is subject to regulation by health boards: organizations and technicians that apply permanent makeup to consumers must be continually vetted and approved. Those organizations who provide permanent makeup application as a service also have consumers complete health histories at the initial appointment. This allows these organizations to help the consumer understand potential risks of permanent makeup, have conversations with their primary doctors, and to potentially realize that they are not a good candidate for the procedure. In many ways, permanent makeup is much more well-regulated than traditional makeup in the U.S.
While permanent makeup users can have allergic and other skin reactions (such as granulomas) to the initial procedure, these reactions are rare because of the careful consideration of health history (particularly of skin) during the initial appointment. Many permanent makeup users have found that they are pleased with their appearance, the condition of the skin, and the extra time in their days.